From Anti-Abundance to Anti-Anti-Abundance: Scarcity, Abundance, and Utopia in Two Science Fiction Writers


The decades following World War II were an “age of abundance” in the United States. This essay looks at science fiction works by Philip K. Dick and Ursula Le Guin from this era in which visions of scarcity are both critiques of abundance and utopian gestures. However, since the 1970s, Ramírez argues, scarcity has lost its critical power: the affluent society is already gone; we no longer need science fiction to imagine this. Instead, we need an “anti-anti-abundance”—a cultural politics that recognizes the problems of unlimited growth but also refuses to accept an austere world of cutbacks and insecurity and doing without. We need to recognize the necessity of fundamentally restructuring capitalist system while still pursuing the utopian vision of a life free from toil and want.